The initial lineup for the 69 th French film festival has been announced, with two British directors in rivalry, alongside new cinemas from Nicolas Winding Refn, Jeff Nichols and Pedro Almodovar
Three female directors have cinemas playing in rivalry at Cannes this year a relatively high number for the celebration, which has a history of being criticised for male bias.
American Honey the first movie stimulated in America by Red Road and Fish Tank director Andrea Arnold is among the 20 cinemas screening in competitor. It stars Shia LaBeouf as a hard-partying magazine salesman meandering through the midwest.
The other women competing for festivals top award, the Palme dOr, will be French performer and director Nicole Garcia, with second world war drama Mal de Parres, and German film-maker Maren Ade, whose cinema Toni Erdmann is about a parent who ambushes his daughter with jokes, believing she has lost her sense of humour.
The festival has often been criticised for not celebrating more women or non-white film-makers in its most high profile strand. Four women featured in 2011, but none was invited to the main competition the following year, and merely a maximum of two have been included in the intervening years.
Cannes head Thierry Frmaux faced a backlash last year after reports emerged that women were barred from the red carpet by festival security faculty for not wearing high heels. Frmaux denied that wearing such footwear comes within the framework of festival regulations.
Of the competitors male contingent, Ken Loach is perhaps the most surprising inclusion. The 79 -year-old director was thought to have retired after his last cinema, Jimmys Hall. But Loach, a festival perennial who won the Palme dOr in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes the Barley, will return with another drama: I, Daniel Blake. It tells the story of a carpenter who falls ill and fights to navigate the red tape of welfare subsistence.